For those who are regular followers of this blog, I apologize. I have not posted much this summer, and I am sorry. This has been a summer I want to forget, but I know I never will. What started as an act of grace and welcome turned into a nightmare I feared would never end.
I don’t want to share the details, and the details don’t really matter anyway. It was a trial of my faith, my patience, and it exposed some ugliness that has been hiding inside of me. During this trial I prayed a lot. “I don’t know how to show her love!” and “ I don’t know how to handle this!” and “Show me what I am to do because I don’t know what to do.” I flat out didn’t know what to do to be an example before this woman. I wanted to help her. I wanted to show her love and appreciation. I wanted to be an encouragement to her. I tried to help her see the positives in life and the hope that I found in Jesus. I wanted to share my story with her, but her mind closed to any sound, positive thoughts, or hope long before I met her, I do believe.
Her attitude wore on me, and I couldn’t escape it because she lived in my back yard in a motorhome. She shared the use of a car, my washer, and dryer, my freezer, my yard, my life. It was grace at first, and then something in me shifted, and I was the one losing hope and thinking negative thoughts.
I think there is a lesson to be learned in every trial and that was another prayer of mine. “Show me what you want me to learn!” “Show her what you want her to learn!”
During the trial, I don’t know that I learned anything except how ugly I can be when I am frustrated. I was enraged at times like I had not seen before except mildly. I tried to keep the anger to myself. But such extreme outrage is hard to hold in, and it oozed out in many ways. The whole situation seemed positively hopeless to me and hopelessness is a desperate feeling to cope with when we are Christians because with God there is always hope. Now add guilt to frustration and despair and you see the mess I was in.
The whole problem was resolved, and I was left with my new view of myself. Guilt had turned to shame and self-condemnation and a bunch of feelings I didn’t know how to handle. Romans 8:1 kept coming to mind. “So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Jesus.” But I felt so guilty and like I had blown my only chance with this woman to give her hope and help her plan a happier future,
My devotions spoke directly to my situation. Isn’t that how God always works? Long before we even know what we need he has prepared our help. The devotional is a 365-day devotional, and there is no way the author could know what I had been going through or the day it would end or the day I would be open to hearing what I needed to do. But there it was on October 6-8, the powerful message that would heal my brokenness.
You may never have the same trial I had, but you will have times too when you wish you had been a better witness by your life and your words to the goodness of Jesus. Those trials can cause us to take a more in-depth look at ourselves and expose some hurts or brokenness that come out in ugly ways. Even the holiest among us have some brokenness deep inside because of pains from our childhood or past.
Here are the steps I learned to help me out of the loop of frustration, guilt, and shame:
- In Jesus we have authority over our strong emotions and inner pain. Bring the authority of Christ against these foul emotions;
- Ask Jesus into the sensitive area of your life that birthed these unwanted emotions or feelings.
- Ask Jesus to heal that part of you. He is the great physician, and by His stripes, we have been healed.
- We can confess sin, but not our brokenness. Brokenness must be healed by the only one who understands and heals. The sin that results from our brokenness can be forgiven, but it will reoccur if the point of brokenness is not healed.
- We must remember there is an enemy, and his strongholds must be broken, and any agreements we have made with the enemy must be broken. An agreement may be something like….I always mess things up, or I am useless in the Kingdom of God, or this is just like me. Those are not messages of the lavish love of God. Those are the messages of the enemy who hopes to render us useless.
- We must mindfully choose holiness in the hundreds of big and small decisions we make throughout the day.
- We must fix our eyes on Jesus and not the problem, trial, or any other sources of comfort.
- Cling to Jesus and embrace God’s comfort.
If you are interested in knowing the title of the devotional it is—Restoration Year, by John Eldredge.